Causing a bit of a gap to the long speculated trip reports of certain members visiting several new major parks [surprisingly not Benin in this case], you may be wondering what the Creek will be able to provide to contend with this. If you were hoping for reports of new visited parks and the like, you may leave feeling rather disappointed [there are big plans in the works for the near'ish future though], however what I will offer instead will be in the shape and form of unique and different theme park activity.
Having been a big fan/enthusiast of parks and coasters for a long time, there is something I had always wanted to do at a park for a long time in my life; that was walking up to the top of roller coaster lift hill. Following the foreseeable cancellation of my Towers lift hill walk [due to the unfortunate accident of a certain ride], I instantly booked myself a coaster climb on one the coasters at Thorpe [whether it's a good idea to this the day after a heavy night clubbing and drinking is another story however]
Judging from the [poorly quality] picture above you can tell right away which ride I went for; Colossus
After having experienced my chosen ride at the end of the day before closing, I waited patiently outside the ride's exit [as instructed by the details on the email I'd received when I booked it], where I was soon approached by a member of Thorpe's stuff and when clarifying my name, I knew my experience was about to begin.
Being directed in to the Swarm's control booth with others taking the walk [a dad and his son], we were given an informative talk about the ride's generally statistics from basic things such as opening in 2012, being built by Bolliger & Mabillard and costing 20 million to more complex and interesting facts.
When it comes to dispatching the ride, the operator in the control booth must press both green buttons with his hands in-addion to the platform staff pressing the other four buttons. If one of these buttons isn't pressed the ride will not dispatch. Interestingly, there are four positions staff can be allocated to on this ride, control operator, baggage room, front and back of station, where are total number of seven staff are required on two trains operation and six on one train operation.
The ride's console is a lot smaller and advanced from the park's older consoles [inferno's apparently strikes similarities but is noticeably bigger]. Not only can individual rows of restraints be released individually [no need for the recheck all bars here] but the computer system can also calculate how many trains have been running on the system and give a general count of throughput. Speaking on throughputs, one train operation on Swarm allows for about 600 people per hour [pph] whilst two trains allows up to 1200 PPH.
As you can witness from the photo [and the giveaway on the booth] the ride was on just one train at the end of the day, however this was to ensure final checks on the ride's others train which would be checked up through the evening/night and then run on the circuit the next day whilst the existing train would then receive it's inspection. Interestingly whilst the work shop is located on the right to the station building, there is a giant cold fridge in there too [ I forget why though].
Other interesting things the console allows [pictured above] is to open/close gates, stop and start the ride and also stop and start on the lift hill too. The ride was naturally locked down when we were there which only the engineering crew would be able to open to stop any possibility of the ride operating whilst we were there. One of the other proceedures of loading aside from the buttons and thumbs up is all seats must be closed and locked for dispatched regardelss of them being with or without riders.
The second part of the console, this allows the operator to speak to through the tannoy systems, and press automated announcments such as weather closing and reopening. There's naturally a phone too for the operator to contact platform staff.
like all ride's alike, the ride uses CCTV throughout the surrounding area which is to used to ensure the ride is working correctly and that no one has trespassed in the surrounding area [which would result in an e-stop].
Before doing the actual part of the lift walk, everyone was instructed to put on safety harness vests, which involved putting the main part on your chest whilst adjusting and tightening the giant clip and then getting your legs through the holes then adjusting them. This was finalised by the ball hold which would connect to the coaster wire itself.
Then it was time for the walk itself to begin. This gaint bit of machinery operates the lift hill of the ride.
The harness I was wearing was connected to the chainwire at the side, which involved in the positioning of the clip. Every so often, you would need to push the clip through a check point area so to ensure maximum safety. If you folded the clip in, then it would stick you to position. The design of this safety figure has been designed to prevent slip backs, so if you accidentally trip up on the way up or down, the clip safely locks you in place preventing any major accidents from happening.
One of things talked about was the actual meaning of the ride's project name LC12. I naturally put it down as Lez Cougan, however the actual meaning of the acronym was infact Lost Cause. Mentions of other project names such as Project Odyssey [Colossus] and Project Dylan [saw] were also mentioned briefly there too.
And many steps later, we finally reached the top. It was a very nice day so I was able to get some pretty good views of the park and surrounding area whilst I was up there [including Heathrow].
Who Thought Thorpe was so beautiful
I learn't many interesting new facts on my climb which was great to hear whilst taking in the stunning views below. These included,
1/ Stealth & Rita were originally supposed to be one big coaster however due to some difficulties in planning it, this was split in half. So Thorpe got one half [the better half IMO] whilst Towers got Rita.
2/ The reason why Nemesis Inferno was themed like a volcano was because of the fire that took place on the site the ride replaced [Tropical Travels].
3/ If Thorpe were to build something massive on the empty island next to Swarm, they would need to remove something equivalent in size [my tour guide described the park's landscape as being like a Lilo.
I naturally had to ask/enquire about WC16 [Thorpe's new dark ride] during the climb. However unsurprisingly he wasn't able to provide much information except that it would be the first kind of ride to ever exist in the world and that it would be a top class ride. Even facts down to when it would open [spring or summer] could not be provided.
He did mention there would be more interesting in vestments on the way within the park and that Thorpe's target was now all age groups.
When it came to Fright Nights, he said that this years one would be bigger and better, however couldn't confirm completely if there would be any new attractions or face it alone returned [but hinted the former was likely].
On the operational front, the ride cannot operate below 5 degrees or in winds over 35 MPH, there's a wind tracking device at the top of the hill which is sort of in the form of a micro wind turbine.
The main Thorpe hotel is expected to open around 2018/2019. It was mentioned how a spruce up of the entrance would be liked [depecting a very RCT style appearance] and hinted that a redesign in the future would probably happen however the dome would remain for the foreseeable long term due to it's complex structure and helpful functions within the park.
One of the most eager questions I asked I did manage to get an answer for though was the future of the now closed Chief Rangers Caroulsel? When dismantled the ride was stored temporarily in the staff car park for a while, however unfortunately the ride will never be able to return to the park.
This is because it's going to a different park. Which though wasn't said however apparently it isn't close to any major European parks and the country of location is unknown [so tracking of the ride will likely be extremely difficult]. I am happy to confirm though that many prominent items from the old ride have been salvaged including the old ride centrepieces which are apparently now located in the education centre. The other horses on the ride are believed to have been kept to use on the ride's new home.
I asked on what the forseeable future for Mr Monkey might be and he reckons the ride is here to stay as a tribute and lone survivor of the Ranger area that once dominated the park.
When it came to potential rides going, the answer was generally that Thorpe like to keep their rides and that Samurai was closed so that they could give it out the attention it needed to work again as it was still a popular ride at the park.
When it came to Colossus's 'potential' repaint he was unsure on whether it would get fully done and did agree that ride presentations are an important aspect of rides. He did however hint towards the possible return of the railway in the future and the re-theme of Rumba though.
Proof this is real
A pic of me and my guide
I'm a long way up!
After this unique,interesting and insightful experience, I gradually made it down from this giant coaster back to the ground where I thanked my host before grabbing my belongings and making my way.
The Big Question
Was The Walk Worth £50?
in this experience, not only do you get to go up and down your coaster of choice, but you are presented with stunning and amazing views of the surrounding area not just in the park but on for many miles throughout the landscape. You also learn a lot of new facts and information on different things in the park from the operational and management side to how the park works as a whole. Seeing the control cabin of one of my favourite coasters was another interesting sight and I enjoyed my time doing this experience where all the VIP team were extremely friendly and helpful and this was no rush or pushing ahead on the experience at any time.
I will probably do another lift walk here at somepoint in the future [not sure when though] on Colossus to see how it compares and look how different the ride works from an operational view, B&M were described as the creme de la creme of coasters when I was there. If you're in to different theme park experiences and wish to experience a lift hill walk, I would definitely recommend experiencing one on The Swarm!